The Overland Park Planning Commission is once again recommending approval of a mixed-use hot spot to replace the Brookridge Golf and Fitness Club near Interstate 435 and Antioch Road.
At its meeting Monday afternoon, the commission unanimously voted in favor of rezoning and a preliminary plan for the huge project.
This isn’t the first time the commission has approved it.
On Aug. 24, the commission had voted 7-4 to recommend approval. But when the issue got to the city council in the fall, too many members of the council had concerns about density, building height and traffic improvements impacting homes along Antioch Road.
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Unable to make a decision at its meeting on Dec. 21, the council had sent it back to the Planning Commission for further review.
The project — an upscale urban village — is set to feature office space, retail, multi-family units, a movie theater, a 3,500-seat indoor performance venue and a 550-room hotel. It will also feature a large park along Indian Creek.
Although the Planning Commission unanimously voted approval on Monday, the decision was not an easy one.
The impact the project’s traffic improvements would have on adjacent homes was the commission’s biggest concern.
To fully construct all the necessary road improvements for the project, the developer, Chris Curtin, needs to acquire 12 properties that sit along the east side of Antioch, between the interstate and 103rd Street.
So far, he has only seven, his attorney, John Petersen, confirmed.
To begin development before constructing the full road improvements on Antioch, Curtin proposed a three-phase plan.
The first phase of the project, focused in the northwest corner, would feature 700,000 square feet of office space, around 300,000 square feet of retail, 855 multi-family units, a 650-seat movie theater, and a 200-room hotel. Traffic improvements would include turn lanes on Antioch Road and 103rd Street.
It would also allow anyone living in the homes along Antioch to remain there during that phase.
The commission, however, was uncomfortable with homeowners having to live with buildings so close to their backyards, so it created a stipulation that stated if Curtin did not acquire all 12 properties in time, the row of buildings proposed closest to the homes would not be built in the first phase.
Curtin agreed to the new condition.
The Planning Commission also was pleased with several other changes Curtin had made to the project since they last saw it six months ago.
One of those changes was the project being scaled down considerably.
Residential units were reduced to 2,076 units from 2,326 units and the square footage of office space was reduced to 1.95 million, from 2.2 million.
Also, office buildings on the south side of the project were reduced to 10 stories from 12, setbacks were increased for apartment buildings along 103rd Street, a clubhouse was eliminated, and green space was added. Evergreen plantings are proposed along the north side of 103rd Street.
“This project, given its magnitude, has to be done carefully and slowly,” said Planning Commissioner Edward Reitzes. “I like the improvements I see here, such as the setbacks to 103rd Street. There’s less density and more green space, so I’m more enthusiastic about it now.”
Dozens of homeowners who live near Brookridge, however, did not share his enthusiasm.
At the hearing, many of them argued the project is still too dense and out of character for the area, which is surrounded by single-family homes.
“The changes they’ve talked about are of no consequence because Curtin still wants to put a small city in the middle of a single-family neighborhood,” Wycliff resident Bob Miller said. “The land use and the setbacks and the traffic are not acceptable.”
Longtime fellow Wycliff resident Ruth Gascoigne agreed.
“We are real people and this project affects all of us,” she told the commission. “With traffic, we can’t get out of our neighborhood at 3:30 p.m., so I can’t imagine what it will be like when this is built. The density of this project will destroy Wycliff.”
But the residents’ pleas weren’t enough to sway the commissioners.
As Commissioner Rob Krewson put it, “Mixed use makes sense in this location. This property is a big deal and this is a quality development that is consistent with the trends.”
The council will consider the plan March 14.
Jennifer Bhargava: firstname.lastname@example.org.